The world of commercial diesel repair has seen a lot of changes in the last decade, not least of which was the arrival of Fullbay (we’re joking…kinda). Shop owners are turning to technology to help them run a more efficient and profitable operation, and so far, technology hasn’t disappointed.
But what kind of technology should you be looking at?
We’re so glad you asked.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to learn about what kind of mobile devices are most useful in a commercial repair shop and how to keep said devices clean and safe in a world of constant mechanical peril. You will receive bonus points and our unending admiration if you do so while humming the Mission: Impossible theme.
This blog post will self-destruct in 30 seconds.*
WHAT MOBILE DEVICES SHOULD A REPAIR SHOP GET?
We’d like to say it takes a special kind of gadget to make it in the commercial repair world, but the truth is there is no special tablet or phone that works particularly well for the diesel world. Almost all of them, at their core, are the same devices you’d use in any other field (or to watch talking dog videos with your morning coffee…we see you).
What kind of mobile technology are we talking about? Have a look:
- Laptops: Portable computers, some with pretty powerful, all-day batteries, that you can bring anywhere. David F. Bregande, Vice President and Manager of M. Bregande Truck & Trailer Repair, prefers to use inexpensive laptops because multiple techs can use one.
- Tablets: These days, they’re pretty much laptops without keyboards (although you can get special keyboards for them). Jimmy Wall, General Manager of Donahue Truck Centers, likes tablets for his staff, but suggests getting the same brand and model to make upgrades and troubleshooting easier.
- Chromebooks: Basically a laptop, but with Google’s Chrome operating system (OS) on them. They tend to be cheaper than regular laptops and you are confined to Google-centric stuff. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to lump Chromebooks together with laptops, but they are technically sort of different.
- Smartphones: Modern smartphones can do everything a tablet can do, and they can make phone calls. Way cool, right? Jimmy likes how convenient they are, noting that many of his employees use their phones instead of their assigned tablets because it’s just easier to stuff them into a pocket.
- Desktop computers: We’re told some people still use these, so we’ll include them here. Your desktop is usually hard to move and stays in a back office, staring at you accusingly.
The device (or devices) you invest in will depend on your budget and what you and your techs need. You can find something at pretty much every price point, from $100 to $5,000, though build quality and longevity will vary. So do some shopping around and pick the gadget that’s right for you and your shop.
WHAT FEATURES SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
But Fullbay, you may be saying, they’re all so nifty! Can you help me decide what to get?
Like the War Between the Star Wars Trilogies—this is a choice you must make alone, padawan. But generally speaking, you’ll want the following:
- Lightweight/slender profile: You want a device that’s easy to grab and take everywhere with you—whether it’s in your hand or shoved into a backpack.
- Gorilla glass: Some smartphones and tablets come with this extra-strong glass—pretty important in a field where they can be dropped, or have things dropped on them.
- Camera: You’re taking pictures of units and repairs in progress for customers, right? Don’t skimp on the camera.
- Memory: You’ll want to store those photos and videos somewhere. Some tablets and phones now have their memory soldered in, so you can’t upgrade; in these cases, make sure you get a device with as much memory as you can.
- Battery power: Yes, you can charge a device from pretty much anywhere these days, but make sure you get a solid battery that can last you at least a day through heavy usage. Oh, and don’t forget to invest in an external battery or wireless battery charger for your mobile techs on the road—they’ll love you for it!
As a general tip, If you’re a mobile tech, you’ll want to make sure you get adapters and attachments so you can charge on the go.
THE GREAT DEBATE: APPLE VS. ANDROID VS. EVERYONE ELSE
We can hear it now: But Fullbay…should I get a robot or a fruit?
Reader, that is up to you. We do not care to wade into the epic battle that rages between these tech behemoths. Do you like Apple? Grab yourself that fancy new iPhone or iPad. Are you an Android person? Go forth and take in the world with one of them fancy Galaxy phones.
(Fullbay runs on both systems, by the way. As well as Chrome, Windows phones [they still exist?], Google Pixels, and so on. Actually, it runs on everything with a web browser, including, in theory, a fridge, although no one has tried that.**)
In short, brand doesn’t matter. Internet connection—that matters.
KEEPING DEVICES CLEAN & SAFE
There’s one tiny, miniscule, insignificant issue that comes with bringing fancy tech into the diesel workplace.
We are, of course, referring to the fact that the diesel industry is, erm, well…it can be dirty and greasy and rough, and these devices, by and large, are…how can we say this politely?
Seriously. They’re computers. Computers need TLC. Or at least need to not be dropped, smacked, crushed, spilled on, or otherwise abused.
This is somewhat at odds with the aforementioned rough life of a diesel repair bay.
So, let’s dig through the things you can do to keep your expensive tools intact and functioning for the long run.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR DEVICE CLEAN AND PROTECTED
1. Get a case.
There are some pretty awesome cases out there that will protect your phone or tablet in case of a sharp drop, and new ones are emerging all the time. Look into Otterbox, Spigen, and UAG to start.
2. Get a screen protector.
Screen protectors are clear sheets that stick to your phone or tablet screen. The good ones let you use the device exactly the way you usually would, with the added bonus of protecting your screen from scratching and cracking (note, this is not an invitation to hurl your devices around just because you can—they’ll still take damage).
3. Get a keyboard protector.
If your shop is using laptops, those nice keyboards are an alluring spot for dust and grease and other daily debris to seep into. A keyboard protector is basically a case for your keyboard; they keep the dust out and they’re often easy to clean and easy to replace.
4. Schedule cleanings
You clean your other tools, right? Make sure your laptops, tablets, and smartphones get the same treatment. Consider wiping down your devices at the end of every day, as well as a weekly slightly deeper clean (vacuuming/air-blasting keyboards, etc).
5. Keep devices separate.
Don’t toss your stuff into a heap at the end of the day. Make a place for them and keep them there. Two of the shops we talked to have a special “holding area” where devices go home to recharge (literally—there’s a charging bank in one) after the day’s work.
GO GO GADGET?
All right, Agent Hunt. You’ve got your guidelines and our suggestions. You know that Fullbay runs on pretty much anything with an internet connection, so brand doesn’t matter. Do your homework and accept your mission—and bring your shop firmly into the twenty-first century.
**That we know of…have you tried to run Fullbay on your internet-equipped fridge? We do not encourage running Fullbay on kitchen equipment, but please let us know if it works.